Overqualified Employee: A Liability Or An Asset?

You nailed the interview and fulfilled all the job requirements but the employers still turned you down? Why were you turned down? The frustrating reason given by the employer is that the company will look for another candidate since you are ‘overqualified’. This bombshell has been dropped on a lot of candidates over the years and has caused frustration among those who failed to get a job despite being well-educated and experienced. The situation is not that easy for the employers either, who are interviewing a perfect candidate with a lot of experience but cannot hire him because he is overqualified and might not stick with them for long.

What Does Being ‘Overqualified’ Mean?

Overqualified is a term that is applied to any candidate who has more experience and level of education than what is required for the job. It appears to be a good thing to the layman but the managers and employers show the tendency to ignore such candidates in favor of those who fall within the parameters of the given requirements. Actually being overqualified is not a negative thing and can be beneficial for the company but there are a few issues that can arise if a firm hires a person who is overqualified for the job. What the company managers have to decide is whether they can deal with the problems that arise after hiring an overqualified person or do they feel better hiring a person who fulfils just the desired criterion. In most of the cases, the employers choose the second option.

Pros And Cons Of Hiring Overqualified Employees:

Like all other situations, hiring overqualified in an organization has both positive and negative aspects. In order to evaluate a situation properly and reach the right decision, we have to take a look at all the aspects.

Benefits Of Hiring An Over Qualified Employee:

There is no doubt that hiring an overqualified employee is not without its benefits. Some of these benefits are:

Level Of Experience

When an employee with a lot of work experience joins your firm, he brings a lot of experience which is good for the company. Previous experience is the most valuable thing in a prospective employee and the more experienced he is, the more able he is to deal with difficult situations.

Healthy Competition

When a highly experienced and well qualified employee joins the company, it will give rise to healthy competition. The rest of the employees will try to match the high standards being set by the more experienced employee and work harder. Thus a healthy competition will be started, which will improve the outputs of all the employees in the long run.

A Source Of Inspiration

The more experienced and well educated employee will become a source of inspiration for other employees, who will want to learn from his experience and will perform better in the long term.

Downside Of Hiring An Overqualified Employee:

When employers meet a candidate who is overqualified for a job they have some basic concerns that stop them from hiring him for the position. The basic concerns are:

Switching Jobs At Better Offer

Since a candidate is overqualified the managers will be concerned that he might leave the job as soon as a better job offer comes by. Since a candidate is applying for a job that is below his level of expertise and education, the obvious conclusion drawn by the employer is that the job seeker is desperate for the job and will apply anywhere at any post.

Demand Higher Pay

Since the candidate is overqualified and has a lot of experience, the employer feel that he might be asking for a much higher salary than what is feasible for them for a certain job. This makes the situation less favorable for the candidate as the employers feel that they should keep looking for a more appropriate candidate.

Lack Of Motivation

The employers feel insecure while hiring someone who is overqualified because they feel that the work will not be challenging enough for him and he will get bored quickly, loosing focus and motivation. When an employee loses focus he instantly starts looking for another job and thus becomes a flight risk.

How To Deal With An Overqualified Employee?

While there might be a lot of problems with hiring an overqualified employee, if you handle him properly he can prove to be an asset for the company in the long run. It is not as hard to deal with an overqualified employee as most of the managers think. Here are a few things you can try to make sure that the overqualified employee you have hired does not turn into a liability:

Maintain A Healthy Environment

A healthy and productive work environment is essential not only for improving the efficiency of the employees but also for the overall growth of the company. An overqualified employee might get more restless and bored if he is working in a nonproductive environment where he feels that he cannot work at his maximum potential. Make sure that the work environment in your company is conducive where the employees feel motivated to work at their maximum potential.

Make Them Feel Valued And Respected

The worst thing that you can do to an overqualified employee is make him feel undervalued and humiliate him. It is never wise to make your employee feel undervalued but since the overqualified employee will be more sensitive to such things so you have to make sure to be appreciative and understanding. If your attitude towards the employee is condescending, he will start looking for another job where he will feel respected.

Keep Challenging The Employee

In order to retain an overqualified employee, you have to keep him motivated. To keep an employee motivated you have to keep challenging him by giving more interesting projects. Mundane routine makes them question their own productivity and gives rise to dissatisfaction.

Utilize His Expertise

If you have an overqualified employee on the team be sure to utilize his experience rather than feeling threatened by it. His expertise is a valuable asset for you and you can utilize it for the progress of your company.

What To Do If You Are Being Labeled As Overqualified?

Enough has been said about overqualified employees and what the management can do to deal effectively with them. As for the jobseekers that have been labeled as overqualified, there are a few things that can help in turning the label into a positive thing. Here are a few tips that will help you in landing a good job despite being overqualified.

  • Show you are willing to work at the position that you have applied for. You should have a valid reason for applying to a job that is below your level of experience and expertise otherwise the employers will assume that you are just desperate for a job.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job that you are being offered. Show how you can bring stability and growth to the company. However, make sure that you do not appear pompous or a show off.
  • Emphasize your loyalty to previous employer. Give references if you left the employer on good term. You have to establish that despite being overqualified you are not a flight risk.
  • Show a positive attitude at work. Do not be lethargic or monotonous in your routine. It will make the employers feel like you are losing interest in the job and might leave soon.
  • Articulate your capabilities well and emphasize on the level of sophistication you will bring to the job. Show them that you are willing to work hard at a job that might be below your level of expertise because you believe you can improve the quality of work.
  • Do not push hard for a higher salary as it will make the employers think that you are not a goal oriented person. By all means ask for the salary that you deserve and is appropriate for the position that you are working for but do not go completely overboard.